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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 March, 2005, 06:53 GMT 07:53 UK
Hospital treats 'drunk children'
Girl drinking, generic
Two children a month were taken to hospital because they were drunk
A total of 25 children were admitted to a north Wales hospital with drink-related problems in a 12-month period, a survey has revealed.

An audit by the Wrexham Maelor Hospital from September 2003-4 revealed the average age of underage drinkers as 14.

All had high levels of intoxication, and three were treated at the high dependency unit.

The figures were released in the week of a BBC Wales social action campaign on binge drinking.

The audit was carried out by Nick Nelhans, a consultant paediatrician at the hospital to improve services and observe the binge drinking habits among young people.

Dr Nelhans said children being admitted because of alcohol was not uncommon.

"We wanted to see just how many children were being admitted," he said.

"I'm not surprised by the results but it does worry me.

Wrexham Maelor Hospital
The study was carried out at Wrexham Maelor Hospital

"It is worrying because it is just the tip of the iceberg - we don't know how many children are drinking that haven't ended up in hospital.

"There were two 12-year-old girls who were admitted and it makes you wonder where are they getting the alcohol from.

"It is so frustrating because it is not good for their health - if you have got a 12-year-old girl who is so drunk she can't look after herself it makes you think that she must be putting herself into situations where she could encounter other problems," he said.

Out of the 25 admitted, the hospital had records for 22 of them and revealed that of those 22, 13 were girls and 12 were boys.

The survey revealed that nine had been drinking in a local park, six were at home, four were at parties and one was at school. Five had been drinking in more than one place.

Three of the 22 children studied were admitted to high dependency unit, 12 had an alcohol history, and of those 10 out of 12 admitted to drinking on a regular basis.

The 22 children told medics that nine had consumed mainly spirits, eight had drunk spirits and beer, two had taken alcopops with one drinking alcopops and spirits.

Two-thirds of those 22 admitted to using other substances including marijuana and ecstasy.

Dr Nelhans said children under the age of 16 being admitted to hospital because of alcohol was a problem being faced by hospitals across the country.



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